GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said over the weekend that President Donald Trump has realized what the stakes in Syria are and has decided to reevaluate his plans for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from there.
However, Graham, who had lunch with the President on Sunday, stressed that Trump is still committed to bringing American servicemen and women home and has not reversed his Syria orders.
“After discussions with the President and (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph) Dunford, I never felt better about where we are headed. I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way,” the Republican said after his lunch with the President.
“But the goal has always been the same. To be able to leave Syria and make sure ISIS never comes back,” he added, before saying they were “in a pause situation,” looking into how best to achieve President Trump’s objective.
Graham later clarified that plans to withdraw troops were not put on hold, but rather the pause “is to assess the effects of the conditions on the ground.”
The White House did not explain whether the comments meant that Trump had changed his contested decision regarding Syria. National security adviser John Bolton is scheduled to travel to Israel and Turkey early in the new year to discuss the decision with partners in the region.
Speaking in front of the White House, the senator noted that President Trump’s trip to Iraq was an eye-opening experience as he was told by commanders that ISIS is not “completely destroyed.”
“The President assured me he is going to make sure he gets the job done, and I assured him that nobody has done more to defeat ISIS than he has. We are inside the 10-yard line,” Graham told reporters at the White House.
Graham, who was among those strongly criticizing the President’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria, said Sunday that he felt better about the issue after his lunch with Trump. “The President is taking this really seriously. The trip to Iraq was well timed,” he said.